BUENA PARK — Bob Torribio teaches history at Newport Harbor High. But in this his first season as the Sailors' boys' basketball coach, he is interested in rewriting his program's recent history.
Coming off four straight losing seasons, Torribio's Sailors forged a 4-0 start, the program's best since the 2005-06 season.
But that run came to and end in a 78-63 loss to Villa Park in the championship game of the Coyote Classic on Saturday at Buena Park High.
Now, Torribio is hoping recent history does not repeat itself.
Last season, Newport Harbor opened with three wins to reach the final of the Coyote Classic. A loss to Tesoro in the title game began a skid in which the Tars dropped 15 of their next 16 games on their way to a 6-17 record.
Torribio said his team lacked sufficient commitment to keep its winning streak alive.
"That's a good team," Torribio said of the Spartans (6-3), who have won six straight. "You come out flat and with a lack of energy against a good team and they are going to bury you. I think we learned that tonight. It's a good lesson for the future for us."
The lesson plan was simple for the Spartans, who held Newport to just one field goal in the first 4:35, during which time they seized a 12-2 lead. Villa Park expanded its cushion to 21-8, before settling for a 24-13 first-quarter bulge from which Newport could not recover.
The Sailors, who missed nine of their 14 first-quarter field-goal attempts, appeared listless at both ends.
"Last night's game [a frenetically paced 70-50 semifinal win against Buena Park that featured 56 combined turnovers] took a lot of energy," Torribio said. "We were hoping that in a championship game like this, we would be able to respond. But it looked like we weren't interested in the first quarter, and they just took it to us."
Villa Park made at least half of its field-goal tries in every quarter to finish 34 for 62 (54.8%). The Spartans first and only first-half turnover occurred in the final two minutes of the second quarter and their second was committed in the final seconds of the third period.
Newport Harbor was outscored only 36-35 after halftime, and earned praise from its coach for continuing to sprint uphill.
But in the end, Villa Park junior Lamont Tyler, a 6-foot-10 center, and junior Luke Selway proved too efficient inside. Tyler made 11 of his first 13 shots on his way to 22 points and nine rebounds. His teammates penetrated to draw defenders, before dropping the ball off to Tyler, who stood nearly flat-footed while swishing most of his inside deliveries.
Tyler, who added nine rebounds, was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
The 6-3 Selway, an all-tournament selection, attacked the rim for most of his 20 points.
Junior guard Nic Sargeant paced the Sailors with 21 points, while senior Brian Robbs had 14 points and five rebounds.
Kevin Rakestraw, Newport's 7-foot senior center, had 12 rebounds, seven points and three blocked shots. He was the Sailors' lone representative on the all-tournament team.
Senior Robbie Rettig had nine points, while senior Zach Wade added seven points off the bench for the Sailors.
"We tried to attack in the second half," Torribio said. "We did some really good things in the second half. It just took us a little while to respond."
Newport, which had beaten its first four foes by an average of 18.5 points, will get a chance to respond Wednesday when it faces Roosevelt of Los Angeles in a the Cardinal Classic at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High in Montebello.